I recall following Communities for Kids, a Twitter account that sought comic book donations for kids. I was new to Twitter, so I don’t remember much about it. But I strongly remember a Twitter account, Comics4Kids, surface with the same solicitations. Even back then, I thought it was odd. Eventually Communities for Kids faded away, but Comics4Kids remained.
Comics for Kids is/was/is/was/is/was (it goes from being open to closed over the past few days), a Twitter account that solicits comic books, original art, and monetary donations. The books are supposed to be given to children to help promote literacy. Art is supposed to be a prize for donors. Monetary donations are supposed to be used for shipping the comics to kids.
Comics for Kids, or Comics4_Kids (this Twitter handle will not get hyperlinked anywhere on my blog), claims to be a non-profit organization based out of Tishomingo, MS. Michael Whitehead is the CEO, and appears to be the only employee. A few days ago, I began to read several tweets questioning the non-profit organization’s true motive. I saw a tweet with a picture of a young boy holding a certificate. I zoomed in on the picture to read the child’s name. His last name is Whitehead. I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if he’s related to Michael Whitehead.” After reading a few more tweets, I learned the Twitter war apparently started from that picture.
The purported charity was asked if the child in the picture was related to the CEO. It didn’t take long for Michael Whitehead to become enraged and start going off and blocking those who questioned his ethics. He talked big-time smack, and even tweeted “You honestly make me sick,” to one individual, and “Fuck you (person’s name)” to another. And guess what? All of this was tweeted under the charity’s brand.
Here’s Bleeding Cool’s article about the chaotic Twitter war that expanded over a few days.
I became suspicious of this charity months ago. The account always asks for comics (including CGC), rare comics, original art and money. I have never seen pictures showing where the donations have gone. Several times a month a picture is posted showing two stacks of USPS packages ready to ship, along with a tweet asking for money to ship them. First of all, we don’t know what’s in those envelopes. Second, it’s the same damn picture every time. You don’t see any pictures of kids with their books, or the comic drives the organization claims to host. Contest winners for original art are never announced. The same two pictures of the same two original drawings are tweeted all the time. So yeah, I was on to that Comics4Kids Twitter scam a while back.
By the way, there is no active website, and they removed their Facebook page.
The Twitter feud was so intense that Mark Waid, a well-known, respected, and influential comic creator, stepped in. Waid is hotheaded, but he tells it like it is. He was out with it and called Michael Whitehead out on key issues.
I am not known in the comic community, but I’m vocal whenever I feel the need. I tweeted a couple of comments, basically telling Comics for Kids to show us they want to help kids. I was blocked from their Twitter account a few hours later.
There is always someone looking for comics to read. And there are several ways to get comic books in the hands of those who want them, including children.
- Garage/yard sale
- Mom2Mom sale. These sales are gaining in popularity. My family participated in two of these sales over the past year. Kids went wild over the comic books. We sold them for 25 cents each. I gave a lot of them away, simply because we didn’t want to take anything back home.
- Your local library. Call and see if they accept donations.
- Physician offices
- Hospitals. Call the volunteer office, or Nurse Manager on a specific unit, and ask if they will accept comic books to be placed in the waiting rooms. Volunteers may even take them into the patient rooms. I work in an ER and our pediatric ER receives donated books all the time, including a few comics. They’ll be getting more soon, because I’m in the process of going through my own kids comics.
You don’t need to send money to these so-called charities to help ship comics either. Why do such a thing when there are kids in your own neighborhood that would love to have a comic book? We’re surrounded by children, so let’s help them. Sponsor a child by taking him or her to a comic shop, or giving them your child’s unwanted books.
I have a cousin with a daughter in middle school. Her daughter often asks to stop by the comic shop on their way home, because it’s down the street from the school. So of course I told my cousin that I will take her daughter to the store and let her get whatever book(s) she wants.
There are plenty of ways to help people, children and adults, obtain comic books. Supporting a fake charity should not be one of them.
Promoting literacy goes beyond just handing a book to a child. Can the child read? Is it age appropriate? Is there any parent involvement? You just can’t hand a book to a child and say you’re helping to promote literacy. That’s why it’s a good idea to start helping kids to read comics at home. By home, I mean with relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers. They all have children that want comic books. Start with the locals.
I have a co-worker whose 5 year-old son loves anything and everything Spider-Man. My son reads and collects Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man. A couple of times while at the comic shop, I bought an extra copy for her son.
A few months ago, a man took his young son into the comic shop to buy his first comic book. The man had enough money for maybe one or two books. I grabbed a $5 bill from my purse because I wanted to make sure that little boy did not leave the store without his first comic book(s).
If you insist on donating to charity (some like to do it for bragging rights), please play it safe and research the organization first.